William F. Pickard, Ph.D., is the chairman of Global Automotive Alliance, co-managing partner of MGM Grand Detroit Casino, CEO of Bearwood Management Company, and co-owner of five Black-owned newspapers.
Pickard’s 45-year entrepreneurial career began as a McDonald’s franchisee in Detroit. Since its founding in 1989, GAA has generated more than $5 billion in sales with eight plants in the U.S. and Canada, and supplying corporations such as Boeing, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Delphi, Johnson Controls, Starbucks, Home Depot and Merck & Co.
Pickard was recently honored at the 17th annual Black History Month Celebration for the General Motors African Ancestry Network.
What do you challenge the next generation of young Black businessmen and women to do in the world?
If I can become a Black multimillionaire in America, and go to school to be a social worker and a psychologist, anybody in the room can do it. Nobody in the room has failed more times than Bill Pickard, but I’ll tell you what Denzel Washington said. He said, “If you fall nine times, you got to get up 10.” I have a quote that I live by that says, “The world is not fair, but God is.” I believe that from the bottom of my heart. I’m from LaGrange, [Georgia], right down the road from Atlanta. I believe that anybody can accomplish anything if they put the work in. You got to put the work in because there are no shortcuts in this game. You got to lay with it. I used to work morning, noon and night, but I could see what happened to the people that were successful, and that kept me going.
What do you suggest other Black businesspeople do to support the Black community?
There’s so much that we can do. [Not] everybody can’t write a million-dollar check. I just gave a million dollars to Clark Atlanta University in honor of my dear friend, Tommy Dortch Jr. and they’re going to name a building there The Pickard Dortch Living Center. Everybody can do something. You can buy a book, you can send $10, you can send $20. Everybody can do something. It ain’t about going to homecoming and wearing clothes you can’t afford, renting a car you don’t own, and all that BS. You got to leave some money at North Carolina Central when you get there. You got to leave some money at Bethune-Cookman when you get there. This is what we got to do more. Don’t get me wrong, we do a lot, but unfortunately, we have a lot of little people trying to do everything. And we have a big group of people who don’t do anything but party and front. [Not] everybody can write a check that big, but everybody can do something. And if everyone did something, we could build even greater universities and colleges.